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Name: Debbie Holcombe
Describe one or two of the newest and/or most innovative activities that you do with your students in physical education?
One of the most innovative aspects of my curriculum is the Aquatic Unit. This unit consists of an Aquatic Sports and a Lifeguarding class. The Lifeguarding class enables students to receive their YMCA/Red Cross certification and those students passing these areas of certification are often offered employment at the YMCA before the end of the semester. I created our Aquatic Sports class where students are taught snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, basic and advanced swimming skills and a variety of cooperative and team sports within the pool setting. A favorite unit among the students in this class is the Survivor Unit which places students in tribes who cooperate with each other to win points for various tasks and overcoming obstacles.
I have also incorporated teaching strategies and techniques that make modifications to traditional and non traditional activities which I feel has created innovative learning experiences for the typical unmotivated physical education student. These modifications have helped to enhance a more positive learning environment where all students feel like they can contribute and succeed. Students are free to interject ideas for modifications to make activities and movement more fun.
What is your particular expertise in regard to teaching physical education – what is the focus of your teaching?
My expertise and the focus of my teaching centers around my ability to meet the needs of all of my students on their various levels. This means challenging those who are gifted with movement and reaching those who have never enjoyed movement or physical education. By making movement fun and an integral part of my students' daily lives, I hope to create a lasting foundation for a lifetime of enjoyment. This is achieved by modification of activities for student enjoyment and participation, through my creation of a curriculum inclusive of all students; not just athletes, and my importance of being a role model.
There is no substitute for my influence as a teacher. I incorporate the "Do as I do, not the do as I say" philosophy. I share my struggles with weight control and how I incorporate an active lifestyle into my daily routine. I participate with my students in activities as much as possible and take my position as a role model to my students seriously.
What is your philosophy for physical education – what do you believe in?
My philosophy of physical education focuses on meeting the social, emotional and physical needs of each student. My main goal is that when each student leaves my class they are not only empowered with the knowledge to be able to take responsibility for their own fitness level, but also have the desire to remain active and continue to move. Movement must be meaningful and enjoyable in order for students to transfer that experience to a desire to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. It is my responsibility to build a foundation that lasts for a lifetime and instill an appreciation for how maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle can improve their quality of life.
What does being a physical education Teacher of the Year mean to you?
Being selected as my state and district Teacher of the Year has validated my work as a professional. It was an honor and a privilege to be nominated by my principal and to receive recognition by my peers. It is exciting to have the opportunity to give something back to my profession and to be able to network and learn from my peers at the same time. I want to be able to make a difference and to even be more of an advocate for my profession.
What do you do to help other physical education teachers plan and implement exemplary programs?
My ability to assist other teachers begins with my own professional growth. I attend PE Institutes, South Carolina Physical Education Assessment Program (SCPEAP) workshops and the SCAPHERD Convention. I have also completed my National Board. I collaborate with other teachers in our district and throughout the state to generate new ideas and problem solve. As the department head at our school, I am responsible for staff development within our department. My staff includes head coaches of sports that do not allow them to attend many of our state conventions and workshops due to their coaching responsibilities and also department budget constraints. I share information with them following my attendance at the convention and workshops. We do not have a Physical Education Curriculum Coordinator in our district office and prior to our SCPEAP assessment evaluation I conducted a district wide workshop outlining ideas on how to successfully complete the evaluation. I feel it is important to collaborate with my peers to provide the best physical education experience for my students.
Any quotes from students about you as a physical education teacher, or the classes taught by you?
"Coach Holcombe is really good at integrating and playing to everyone's strengths. She is very enthusiastic. She's always cheering for us and encouraging us." – Katherine Carter (student)
"Just wanted you to know what a difference you have made in my daughter's life. I told my husband that it meant so much to me that you took a little extra time to make Alex feel so special. I feel I have tried her whole life to make her feel those things but some how coming from you has made an impression on her for the rest of her life. I hope you never forget what an important role you play in so many of these lives." -Michelle Goodman (parent)
"Coming into high school, I didn't expect my PE class to be enjoyable, but Coach Holcombe made her class fun and memorable. She motivated me to lose weight and I appreciate that very much." – Chasity Davis (student)
"I am not what you would consider the quintessential physical education student. Doing physical activities are difficult for me, but she was always encouraging me to do my best. She did not allow others to tease me and because of this it was an enjoyable experience for me." – Bethany Venus (student)
List three of your "favorite" conference session titles that you have presented, with a brief description of each.
District 5 SCPEAP (South Carolina Physical Education Assessment Program) Workshop:
This workshop was in preparation for the upcoming state assessment and I facilitated the workshop for our entire district of physical education teachers K-12.
Volleyball: Skills and Drills:
A presentation to physical education teachers and volleyball coaches about teaching the correct fundamental skills of volleyball and incorporating drills and activities to enhance those skills.
Softball Fundamentals and Group/Practice Organization:
This was an outdoor clinic presented to parents, local little league coaches and students in our school district ranging from 6 to 17 years of age. This clinic taught a proper progression of the softball fundamentals of throwing, catching, hitting and fielding. A demonstration of ways to effectively organize practice opportunities and team practice was given following skill instruction.
Any additional major teaching awards you have received: